Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Business Development (page 3 of 103)

12 Powerful tips to blow the lid off your business in 2015

12 twelve

Let’s get started.

  1. Think big. No. BIGGER than that.
  2. Stop aiming for perfection. Instead, aim to be better than you were yesterday.
  3. Be a source of encouragement. Highlight people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  4. Back up your plans with action. An ounce of action is worth more than a ton of intention.
  5. Do what you believe is right, rather than what is easy.
  6. Commit to lifelong learning. Feed your mind with information that educates, motivates or inspires you.
  7. Deliver on your promises. This is a great way to build a world class reputation.
  8. Look for the learning in every situation.
  9. Stop following and lead. Your marketplace is always short of people willing to lead.
  10. Start your projects with the end in mind. Get crystal clear on your outcome, before you start the work.
  11. Watch as little TV as possible. It’s called programming for a reason.
  12. Be fast to forgive others. While you’re holding a grudge, they are out dancing.

Bonus: Here are over 180 marketing tips and ideas for your business!

How to win against cheaper competitors

How to

Right now, Google is showing your prospective customers the details of all your competitors – including those competitors who charge less than you.

So, your prospective customers now know you’re not the lowest priced provider. The question is: How do you plan to convince them that you’re worth the extra money?

Generic marketing promises do not work

We are in one of the worst economic cycles in living memory and your prospective customers are thinking a LOT harder, before they spend their money.

They demand value.

It’s not enough for you to claim that you offer great customer service or that you go the extra mile or that you care more. Why? Because the bargain basement providers make those same generic promises. Those promises are so common now, that we are almost blind to them.

If you want someone to even consider spending money with you, when there are cheaper alternatives, you need to avoid generic promises and get specific.

The answer

You may already have an attractive proposition, which your cheaper competitors can’t match. If you do, you need to communicate it effectively and make it extremely visible in your marketing.

If you don’t already have a compelling, non-generic reason for prospective customers to buy from you, you need to create one. This is not about developing some snazzy marketing slogan! It’s about building something into your existing product or service, which has genuine value and is not already being offered by your competitors.

For example

You can be yet another accountant or the only accountant in your area, who offers a monthly networking event for their clients – so they become part of a community and not ‘just a client’.

You can be yet another web designer or the only web designer in your price range, who redesigns their client’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts – so they match your client’s beautiful new website.

You can be yet another window cleaner or the only window cleaner in your area, who also cleans the windows on your customers cars.

You get the idea.

Step outside of the ordinary

Take time to think of a genuinely valuable, attractive proposition to offer your prospective customers. A USP is not enough any more. There has to be something, which prospective customers can see as offering them genuine value. A Purple Cow may grab people’s attention, but there has to be value behind it if you want to attract paying customers and not just glances.

Put on your thinking cap and look at your products or services through the eyes of a prospective customer. What needs do they have, which you could serve by adjusting your offering?

Give this exercise the time it deserves. It’s what your prospective customers will be focused on for the foreseeable future.

Don’t let these people crush your business!

Angry

Have you ever stopped using a supplier or service provider, because one of their team was a pain in the ass, rude or incompetent? That’s a rhetorical question, because we all have from time to time.

If you have ever wondered why anyone would employ someone that drives customers away, you’ll find today’s post useful. It could also stop someone you know from making the same mistake, because as you’ll see, the business owner is often unaware that the problem exists.

The toxic head waiter

I was prompted to write this, after meeting up with an old friend yesterday. He owns a restaurant in Soho, London. He told me that he’d been forced to fire his head waiter last summer. Following the firing, takings rose significantly.

No, the head waiter hadn’t been stealing from him. Instead, he was driving customers away with his attitude. He was a life-long, personal friend of the restaurant owner. However, my friend discovered that the head waiter was rude and obnoxious to customers he didn’t like, and that these included some of the restaurant’s best customers.

It only came to light after a former customer called the restaurant to cancel his anniversary party. My friend asked why and the customer explained that the head waiter was ruining the atmosphere, before naming half a dozen of his friends, who had also stopped using the restaurant because of the head waiter’s attitude. My friend called these former customers and they all confirmed it. His losses from these corporate customers alone run into tens of thousands. He later found many more former customers had stopped eating there because of the toxic waiter.

The toxic P.A.

I saw something very similar happen first hand, with a former client’s business. He hired a new P.A., who was a very good worker and extremely efficient. She massively improved my client’s work flow and even freed him up to have more family time. In his eyes, she could do no wrong.

However, she was nasty to other members of his team and to some clients too. Despite regular complaints, he chose to do nothing about it. He told me that he’d assumed they were jealous of her,

Eventually, her rudeness cost him his biggest client and as this client was related to his 3rd biggest client, he lost that client too! They were responsible for around 20% of his revenue. It was only when he met with the former client to try and win them back, that he finally learned how toxic his P.A. was to his business.

It’s always unintentional

No sane business owner would set out to deliberately hire someone, who was damaging their business. It’s unintentional. In the examples I mentioned here and many others I am aware of, the business owner had no idea that the toxic employee was causing so much damage.

As business owners, we need to be smarter than that. We need to take time to speak with our clients or customers and ask them about the quality of the service they receive. We need to do exit interviews whenever possible, when a client switches to another provider or when a member of the team leaves.

We all know about the importance of stock taking in our business. However, we also need to ensure we take stock… and take a long look at the people and processes within our businesses.

Tip: Don’t let THIS guy ruin your marketing!

How to win a new client. Unlike this guy!

How to

I was doing some gift shopping at a local store yesterday, when I decided to go for a coffee in their café. I noticed that a salesperson was speaking with the store owner, a couple of tables away from me.

Now, if you asked the salesperson what he was doing, he’d tell you he was pitching a new product line to the store owner.

But he’d be wrong.

The salesperson wasn’t pitching. He was arguing with the store owner.

He was trying to prove he was right and that the store owner was wrong. They were now on opposing sides. By the time my coffee arrived, the salesperson was shaking his head from side to side in disagreement, as the store owner spoke. A few minutes later, the salesman left. Of course, he left without a sale.

If I’d spoken to the salesperson, here’s what I’d have said

A better approach is to position yourself as an asset to their business. A partner in their success.

For example, ask the potential client or customer about their challenges. Then listen. Take notes. Once you have a handle on what their challenges are, show them how your products or services can help them.

This is not only a superb way to build your business, it’s also a great way to build valuable business relationships.

Tip — How to make your business more human and FAR more successful.

Are your fees too high or are you marketing to the wrong people?

aston martin

Yes, your prices or fees could be too high.

Alternatively, you could be marketing to the wrong people.

Insanely expensive or a wonderful deal?

I was with a friend yesterday, who has just bought a car. Someone overheard him telling me what he paid for it and immediately told him, he must be insane and that the price was way too high.

Here’s the thing: The guy that said the car was too expensive, knows nothing about the market value of a 4 month old Aston Martin. The guy who bought the car, is an Aston Martin specialist. He has owned half a dozen of them, he follows the market and he knew he’d just got an incredible bargain. To qualify that, he could resell the car in a week and make £20,000 profit, if he wanted to.

So, here’s what we have

The same car.

The same price.

Yet, one person thinks it’s insanely overpriced. One person knows it’s an amazing deal.

What this means to you

If your business provides a product or service with an Aston Martin level of quality, it will always be too expensive, if you’re marketing it to the wrong people.

In short: Decide who your ideal client is and market exclusively to them. They will eagerly buy from you, because they are in the market for your ‘Aston Martin service’ and value the quality you provide.

PS – Here is a 3 part series I wrote, on how to work for the best clients and the highest fees:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 1.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 2.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 3.

Read this before you speak with your next prospective client

I spoke with a service provider yesterday. He’s working hard, working long hours too… yet he’s still really struggling.

Why?

He’s competing for clients by trying to make his fees as low as possible. He’s in a race to the bottom with a handful of equally misguided competitors.

Now, his fees are too low for him to make a decent living and too low for him to provide a great service. So not only are his clients barely profitable to his business, he gets very few referrals from them. That’s a toxic, unsustainable mix!

Cheap or valuable?

As service providers, we can either market our work based on it being valuable or we can market our work based on it being cheap. However, we first need to accept that there’s a huge difference between the two.

Cheap work is seldom, if ever, valuable. Usually, it’s just cheap.

P.S. – Here are 3 Ideas to help you, the next time they say you’re too expensive.

What every business owner needs to know about Dabbling

open

If your business isn’t growing as fast as you want it to, today’s post is written just for you.

It always looks closed

I took my friend to his chiropractor recently. As we arrived, I asked him if he was sure he had the correct appointment time, as the place wasn’t open. “Oh, it is open”, he replied. “It just always looks like it’s closed”. There were no lights visible from outside, the door was closed and there was no open sign on the door. It looked to all the world as if it was closed.

I was introduced to the chiropractor and as always when I meet a business owner, I asked him how business was. He explained that business was very slow. Hardly surprising, as he’s losing the vast majority of the passing trade he’s paying for, by locating his business on the high street.

Ignorance is not bliss

Like the chiropractor in that example, many small business owners are totally unaware of the marketing mistakes that are hurting their business. They wrongly assume their poor results are due to the economy, lack of demand or aggressive competition.

In reality, a poorly performing business is paying the price [literally] for the owners decision NOT to do the right things, correctly.

Instead, they dabble. Why? Usually, it’s because they think driving their business into the ground is less risky than getting the expert help their business is screaming out for.

The lesson here is simple

Don’t look outside for excuses when a business isn’t doing well. Instead, look inside for ways to improve the elements you can control. Thankfully, it’s the things you can control that make all the difference.

When a business isn’t growing the way a we would like, we have a decision to make. Do we dabble like an amateur or invest in the help we need? Your answer to that question will tell you a lot about your commitment to your business… and what 2015 is likely to bring for you. Choose wisely.

Be irresistible to prospective clients in just 3 steps

irresistible, attract clients

If you want clients and prospective clients to think of you as the go-to person, for whatever service you provide, I believe you’ll find this post really useful.

It’s based around 3 steps you can take, which will change the way people think and feel about you, so you become their irresistible choice.

What is a go-to person?

Firstly, I’d like to confirm what I am referring to when I use the term, go-to person. I’m talking specifically about those valued people in business, who we immediately think of when we have a need, related to their area of expertise.

When someone thinks of you as their go-to person for a particular need, they go direct to you.

  • They don’t ask a friend for a recommendation.
  • They don’t poll their friends on Facebook.
  • They don’t take their need to a search engine.
  • YOU get the call!

Clearly, the commercial value of being the go-to person for your marketplace is huge. Not only will you retain your existing clients for longer, you will also attract more inquiries from prospective clients.

To earn this valuable position, we need to focus on 3 core areas.

1. Demonstrate that you know your subject

A newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this. By sharing useful ideas and information, people come to think of you as a valuable resource.

This is why it’s so important to avoid the common mistake, of only offering diluted information to your readers. If you hold back the good stuff, the really useful ideas, you will cause your readers to assume that shallow information is all you know!

Give away as much value, freely, as possible. Now, at this point some of you will be concerned, that if you give lots of valuable information away for free, people won’t bother hiring you. That is actually the exact opposite of how it works.

Here’s what really happens, when you offer extremely useful information for free in your newsletter or blog posts:

  • Some people will use your free ideas, with no intention of hiring you. As they were never going to hire you anyway, you lose nothing.
  • Some people will use your free ideas and get part of the way, then realise they need your expert help. These people will call you. Had you not given so much free information away, you’d never have positioned yourself as their go-to person.
  • Some people will see the value of what you do, then figure out very fast that it’s far better to hire you to do it for them.

It works. People in that 2nd and 3rd group make up almost all of my non-referred clients!

2. Demonstrate that you are approachable

If we want people to get in touch with us, we need to be as approachable as possible to them. This means taking every opportunity to demonstrate that we are friendly and professional.

Unbelievably, many business owners are cranky or confrontational, even when they are sharing their thoughts online, for the world to see. This is, of course, their prerogative. However, there is a price to pay for being cranky or confrontational. It makes us far less approachable. If we want people to feel comfortable approaching us, we need to be approachable. We need to show humility. We need to remove any barriers.

3. Demonstrate your reliability

Again, publishing a newsletter or blog posts is a great way to demonstrate your reliability. Of course, this is only the case if you have reliably published content over a reasonable period of time. If you write a newsletter or blog and the last thing you published was several months ago, it works directly against you. Instead of demonstrating your reliability and stick-ability, you do the opposite.

If you have been in business for a long time, let people know. When a prospective client reads my about page, they can see that I set this marketing business up in 1995 and that I have worked in marketing all my adult life. That, along with almost 6 years worth of publishing ideas via Jim’s Marketing Blog, offers those thinking of hiring me a huge confidence boost. You should do the same for your prospective clients and customers too.

IMPORTANT: Drawing a line

It’s important at this point, to make a very clear distinction between positioning yourself as the go-to person and positioning yourself as the freebie person.

Yes, it’s a privilege to be regarded by our family and friends as a person they know they can rely on for whatever they need. However, in business, we need to draw a line between what we are prepared to do for free and what we will offer as a paid service. Otherwise, we are likely to become a magnet for freebie hunters. Freebie hunters are people who abuse the nature of others, with selfish demands for free goods and services.

For example, I occasionally get emails from people, asking me to do unpaid work for them. These range from things that would take me a few hours, to tasks that would take me a week.

It’s worth mentioning that many of my clients started off as readers, yet none, not one, of my clients came to me after asking for freebies.

How to get the balance right: The one-to-many approach

There best way to offer free information, which is scalable and sustainable, is to adopt the same approach I use here. I call it the one-to-many approach.

Here’s how I do it: All the free work I do for people is offered via Jim’s Marketing Blog and the email version of the blog. I call it the one-to-many approach, because I create one piece of work and it benefits many people.

Offering one-to-one work for free, simply does not scale. It makes no sense for me to give an hour of my time to 1 selfish person, when I can use that same hour to write something, which will benefit thousands of people.

Finally

For some business owners and consultants, there is a huge mindset change required, to adopt the idea of freely sharing, valuable content. However, for those who embrace the idea, the rewards are huge. It’s the primary marketing model I have used for years and is the most powerful form of marketing I have ever seen. I can’t recommend it highly enough to you.

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